Key insight #1: It happens all over the world—when people put themselves, their talents, their traditions, their homes, their towns or their cultures on display, they take pride in what they show and how their guests receive them. When visitors are invited into a community, as in tourism, the community cleans up private and public spaces, makes improvements and comes together to put their best face forward, guarding against negative influences and working together. As people work together, they strengthen their own bonds and increase their collective ability to accomplish more for the community. Rich ideas spring up and residents take initiative to act on them. And the economic benefits of visitors to the community circulate and are reinvested in more improvements to the community.
Key insight #2: Think of your most special travel memories. Besides the incredible landscapes, physical feats or adrenaline rushes, your most special travel memories (or any memories for that matter) are most likely your favorites because of a connection—probably deeper than you expected—with another person, group of people or culture. Maybe you were invited into someone's shop or home to wait out a storm, slept in another person's home or village, were given the ability to see and feel how another culture lives, or received unexpected generosity when you were stranded or your travel plans went awry. People tend to connect deeply with other people when given permission, and to value those experiences much more than more superficial ones.
Imagine encouraging a whole city of individuals, families and neighborhoods to showcase their skills and talents, histories, homes, food, drink or hospitality, open to the public from far away or just another part of the city to enjoy.
See the "Resources" section below for logistics, but the objective would be to create a city-wide initiative to encourage and help people and neighborhoods organize and produce one-off and ongoing events, tours, shows & exhibitions, classes, products or services that show the incredible richness, color, flavor and value that exists right inside our very own neighborhoods.
Examples could include:
- Neighborhood block parties, street fairs or holiday festivals with locally cooked food, local bands and entertainment, art, crafts and talents on display. Neighborhoods would organize but invitations would be put out to the whole city and through tourism board channels.
- Open your home to weekly meals, drinks or home-stays like a bed & breakfast (to the limits of what requires licenses, or work with the city to allow licenses)
- Art and crafts collected and sold or displayed in a local storefront or gallery
- Unique or historical items collected from families and displayed in a local storefront as a museum of hyperlocal history or the diverse histories of all the families who live there
- Walking tours - history and stories are collected from every resident and about the neighborhood's man-made and natural features and a neighborhood tour guide leads weekly or monthly walking tours
- Walking tours of open houses - residents welcome visitors into their homes to interact and give a window into daily life, stories and histories - great for those who want to know how people live in a different community than their own
- Cross-town or cross-city exchange - stay with another family in a different neighborhood for a weekend or longer, then switch
- Classes - teach your knowledge or talents to others
- Have residents each decorate a common object—an empty picture frame, a shoebox or a cheap plaster statue & put them all on display in a local storefront as a display of local artistic talent. Could be sold or auctioned or could be displayed as a collection with others from neighborhoods all over the city.
- Photographic scavenger hunt as a self-guided tour for visitors
Healthy competition among neighborhoods would be good for everyone.